John Scarffe, Nederland.
“Where do you get tickets for this Frozen Dead Guy thing?” That was one of the first questions that came up at the Nederland Visitor Center, even before Frozen Dead Guy Days had actually happened. The question came by telephone and in person.
Before the event, the answer was “online.” After it started, “Down at Teens, Inc. You go down First Street all the way to the end. Make a right and it’s that big building right there.”
“Down that way?” They would point to the highway. “No, down First Street, right there across the street to the east.” Oh, yeah, okay.”
Preparations at the Visitor Center for Frozen Dead Guy Days started back in January with informal discussions of how many people we would need for staffing. We had more discussions as the days got close, and in early March, FDGD Coordinator Amanda MacDonald put the 2016 T-shirts on sale for half price, and the people started pouring in while the sales went up.
Also, in early March we had meetings about staffing and coordinating details. The emails started between Town staff and MacDonald.
Trying to get an early start on purchases, local Nederland folks started asking for the 2017 merchandise.
One lady came in and asked, “Well, when are they going to get here?”
By then I was getting frustrated and replied, “I dunno, and I don’t care.” That led to accusations of poor customer service on a local chat server, so I apologized.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the event began to roll for us when we trained volunteers how to use the Square register and chip reader, and the new merchandise began pouring in on Thursday afternoon. We spent Friday morning getting organized, and that afternoon, event attendees started to arrive, slowly at first, and then more as the afternoon progressed.
With the help of regular Volunteer Betty Porter and Charlie Dillon, a Pinecliffe resident who works at the Nederland Community Center, we sold merchandise, explained the excitement of the Blue Ball and where to go see it. The Center usually closes at 4 p.m., but we stayed open until 6 p.m. during the weekend.
We opened at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and the visitors starting pouring in, pawing through the products and standing in line to purchase them. A table was set up outside with a tent, and FDGD volunteers Julia and Tiffany stood in the cold, wind, and sometimes snow, selling stuff as fast as they could, while the crowd around them grew larger.
Along with selling items, we handed out festival guides and were peppered with questions about where tickets could be purchased and where events were taking place. At most times during the day, the line stretched to the back of the Center and around again. Volunteer Sharon Ferguson arrived before noon and helped keep everything organized.
Traffic guards in their green vests stood outside all day Saturday and Sunday, rotating their arms to move traffic until their arms were about ready to fall off. On Sunday, during the snow shower, I asked one of the guards how he was doing. “I’m cold,” he said. “I’m ready for this to be over.”
Saturday at noon the crowds around the Center grew even larger as spectators waited for the parade and then clapped their hands when the vehicles started coming. At one point after the parade, the crowd stretched deep from the street to the buildings, all the way to the foot bridge to the south, to the end of Nature’s Own to the north and as far down First Street as I could see.
When the band started playing at Crosscut Pizza, the crowd began to jam and sway to the music. One man was up on a table thrusting his drink into the air. At about 5:30 p.m., Volunteer Circus showed up and we helped take down the tent and tables and hauled them to a cart, trying to balance the whole load on the back of the tiny thing.
We grabbed all of the merchandise outside, hauled it into the Center in no particular order and then shut down for the day. We were exhausted and ready for food, beverages and a night’s rest.
Sunday morning started at 8:30 a.m. trying to reconcile the finances and sort out the products scattered throughout the Center.
Tiffany and Julia were back to help get organized, and the crowds started in again, forming their lines and trying to get the best deal possible. The forecast called for partly cloudy skies with snow showers in the afternoon, but the snow started early, flurrying during the morning and then pouring in the afternoon, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the festival goers.
Regular Volunteer Dale Porter came in the afternoon and gave me a couple of hours of needed rest, and when I came back the crowds were beginning to diminish. When Charlie came back at 4 p.m., we had a few moments to chat between explaining where the documentary, brain freeze and ice carvings were taking place.
When we shut down at 6 p.m., the snow was gone and the sun was breaking out. I headed home grateful for the end of a very long weekend.
On Monday I had my hands full totaling sales and visitors and trying to organize what was left of the merchandise. Sharon came back in and gave me some tips and got us organized again.
For the weekend of March 10 through March 12, 2017, total net sales at the Visitor were $18,055.73, and total cash sales were $4,360.15. For last year, during the weekend of March 11 through March 13, 2016, total net sales were $17,676.29, and total cash sales were $4,594.75. Don’t worry. All that money is in the bank.
Total visitors inside the Visitor Center for the three days, not counting visitors outside at the table, were 1,367, with 936 on Saturday. Total visitors for the weekend in 2016 were 1,715, with Saturday recorded as 1,200+.
Comparisons between the two years: total sales were up by $379.44 for 2017 over 2016. Cash sales were up in 2016 by $234.60 over 2017. Total visitors in 2016 were up by 348 over 2017.
I would like to express my appreciation to Tiffany and Julia from the FDGD staff and to volunteers Sharon Ferguson, Charlie Dillon, and Dale and Betty Porter for their hard work, and their kindness and attention to our customers.